It appears that Noel's doom and gloom is catching. I have declared every month a No Spend Month indefinitely. I knew that this month was going to be a bad one for bills when we received a lovely invoice of $900 to pay to our new district council for rates. Not that paying rates is anything new - it's just that they cost three times as much as the old place so that came as a bit of a shock! Still, I wasn't too worried. We've been making such a concerted effort to save on our food bill lately that I was confident we would have enough to cover it.
Until last week when I received a tax bill for $2,000 due May 7th. That in itself was a nasty surprise - but I only just forked out $1,200 for tax LAST month! Talk about adding insult to injury. Apparently one is provisional tax, the other is terminal. Ha - I can see why they call it terminal, it just about kills you to pay it!
Honestly, sometimes it makes you wonder how on earth anyone is supposed to survive. Two steps forward, ten back. Woe is me. And then something really cool happens, such as the Easter holidays. Whilst we didn't win the lottery (I'd have to buy a ticket and am far too stingy to do that!) we did have a ripper of a time filled with heaps of fabulous company and managed to escape with the bank balance almost completely unscathed. Not a bad achievement considering we haven't fed less than seven people for dinner in longer than we can remember and had no less than 14 people hanging out with us over the long weekend. We had friends, grandparents, godparents, the kids' mates, Alex came down from his uni home in the city to stay and we even had a surprise visit from an old farming friend I hadn't seen in more than 15 years. We didn't have much to offer but what we did have we shared and everyone loved it.
It's times like these that remind you of just what is important. Even when money is at its tightest you don't have to miss out. Friendship is priceless. Good food can be priceless too - we got just as much pleasure out of throwing together a massive pot of soup for the hordes at the weekend than running off to the supermarket for supplies or paying a fortune for a meal out. Being at the centre of such a happy, noisy, fun home has really made me think about some of the things I love to do best. No doubt you'll laugh at some of them and think I'm completely bonkers but we all have our little quirks so hey, indulge me!
- Singing in the car. At the top of my voice, music cranked up as loud as it will go. Very important. This has been one of my favourite indulgences since I became a mother and spent years first tiptoeing around a Metallica-free house so as not to wake the babies, then several more years surrendering my car stereo to the likes of Hi-5, Teletubbies and whatever other story CD's the kids wanted to listen to. Even now we all like the same music, there is still nothing I like better than driving solo with the music turned up LOUD. Cost = nothing (except the petrol I'm already using to get me wherever I'm going). Happiness factor = 9/10.
- Walking the dogs on the beach. This is obviously something which we have only just begun in the last six months but Noel and I try and do it every day. It's good for the body (we walk around 5km), good for the soul, good for our relationship as we can thrash out any issues on neutral ground (and a beautiful, tranquil ground at that) and most of all good for the sense of humour as you have never seen anything as funny as Hubble and Minnie racing around on the beach like the two happiest dogs on the planet. Cost = nothing. Happiness factor = 9/10.
- Lounge room disco's. Now this is one of my favourite indulgences! These are a fairly regular occurrence in our house and usually happen when there is nothing on TV and Noel and I are reduced to watching the music channel. All of a sudden a good song will come on and all of a sudden yours truly feels a dance coming on. We jump up, our tiny lounge becomes a dance floor and the two of us bop away merrily for a good couple of hours until we're exhausted or the wine runs out. By some stroke of good fortune our kids have never ventured downstairs and caught us or they would probably die of embarrassment but what the heck, we think it's pretty cool! Cost = nothing (wine optional but no more than $8.99). Happiness factor = 10/10. Hangover factor = extremely likely.
- Running. What is it with me and music? Running is my ultimate indulgence. It's my 'me time', my thinking time, my problem solving time and my de-stress time but most of all it's my 'zone out and listen to music on my iPod really loud' time. Whilst getting fit at the same time which is a bonus. The faster the song, the faster I run! Cost = nothing. Happiness factor = 9/10.
So there you have it, my favourite low cost, feel-good indulgences. We're all different - some of us love nothing better than a really good coffee or a few squares of dark, 70% chocolate. Or a big, deep bubble bath. Or snuggling up watching a movie on TV with home made popcorn. One thing's for sure though; they may not cost a lot but when those horrible tax bills come along they are worth their weight in gold!